Steam has been improving its selection of games for months now, but Valve has landed a much bigger fish this week as Electronic Arts returned to the platform after nearly five years away.
A number of EA titles from the last five years launched on Steam including Mass Effect 3, Star Wars: Battlefront 2, and Battlefied 1. There are still a slew of games from EA that haven’t made the leap ranging from Dead Space 3 to Apex Legends, but this reunion has still been a very long time coming.
— Electronic Arts (@EA) June 11, 2020
In order to install an EA game purchased from Steam, users will have to agree to both Steam’s and EA’s Terms of Services, but most games from EA on the Steam platform are the real deal, complete with Steam Trading Cards and other Steam features. Interestingly, the games still require a stripped-down version of the Origin client to play, nicknamed “Origin Thin.” The client is installed when a user installs an EA game purchased from the Steam store.
EA stopped selling new titles on Steam in 2015 ahead of the release of Mass Effect 3. Though various titles such as Sim City and Dragon Age: Origins remained on the platform, many games were made unavailable to dedicated Steam users.
While no official reason was given for EA’s exodus, many in the industry pointed to the publisher’s desire for microtransactions as one reason for the move. Back then, in-game transactions were difficult to implement outside of the Steam Marketplace. Things have changed, however.
Over the past several months, WIN.gg has reported on Valve’s updates to the Steam platform that would allow for recurring subscriptions and targeted microtransactions. These changes may have been part of a deal with large publishers like EA.
Valve has taken advantage of gamers’ dislike of having a game launcher for each publisher. For years, PC gamers have lamented the need to install different launchers for every publisher including EA’s Origin, Ubisoft’s Uplay. EA’s return to Steam could be the first step in what might be a wave of big publishers coming back to the platform.
EA Access, the publisher’s subscription service that allows players to play any EA game for a flat monthly subscription fee, is also coming to Steam “later this summer” according to a post on EA’s Steam publisher page. EA’s integration with Steam will go beyond that, however.
With an EA Access subscription on Steam, players get a “red-carpet treatment with exclusive catalog-wide discounts, and in-game member benefits for some of [EA’s] biggest franchises.”
With the return of a gigantic publisher like Electronic Arts to Steam, it should only be a matter of time before other publishers follow suit. Some other behemoth publishers, like Ubisoft, already sell their games on Steam.
The only big publisher missing is Microsoft, but they’ve already started to migrate many of their flagship games, including Halo and Gears of War, to the Steam Store. Fans could be seeing Microsoft’s hugely successful subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, make its way to Valve’s storefront as well.
EA’s joining forces with Valve is a telling sign of just how much power Valve wields in the PC gaming market, and it looks like it’s only going to get stronger from here.